mike jenkins

Alternative CCFC CV by Mike Jenkins

The two sides of the same football coin can sometimes be summed up as being humour and violence; and what they both have in common is camaraderie, whether for good or ill. The depths of a football fan’s self-deprecating humour can be many leagues under the sea. At one of the rare Coventry versus a Premier League side games I went to, Arsenal beat us 6-1 in the League Cup at the Emirates. A night game in London, everyone had a blast, pissed up, singing the old songs that harked back to our own Premier League days. A few months later, we played Tottenham in the FA Cup 3rd round at White Hart Lane, and were duly beaten 3-0. So, what did the Cov fans sing to the jubilant Spurs fans? ‘You’re not as good as Arsenal’, because they put six past us and their North London rivals could only manage three.

russia hooliganNext Summer the English fans, for it is only they after the near misses of Scotland, Wales, and both Irish teams, will be heading to Russia for the World Cup. The media are already licking their lips at the prospect of trouble. A BBC documentary on Russian football ‘hooligans’ interviewed a number of organised gangs; those who caused the violence in Marseille in 2016, and were more than looking forward to the arrival of their English counterparts on home soil. There was no hint of irony in explaining how they were merely copying what English fans had been doing domestically for decades; but their perspective felt very dated, as though the UK terraces were still all-standing, and lads with mullets wearing bomber jackets, were going at each other. They are already planning pre-tournament jollies of violence, with the upcoming game between Manchester United and CSKA Moscow, where they plan to team up with their domestic rival like Zenit St Petersburg to cause havoc. No doubt Putin has a hand in it, even if it is only by riding a horse with his top off, and doing judo with giant fish in the Baltic Sea.

DSC_3052 (1)It is therefore nice to have a poem such as Mike Jenkins’ humorous “Alternative CCFC CV”, (his CCFC is Cardiff, not Cov) that marries the comedy of football fans with their penchant for a little bit of aggro. “I’ve stood on the North Bank, Vetch Field,/ supporting the wrong team/ (lucky we never scored!).// I’ve carried on striding/ straight into a marauding Chelsea firm/ saying ‘I’ve lived in Belfast’ to a fleeing friend.” It reminds me a little of the loveable rogue Robbo in Patience Agbabi’s poem, “A Devil in Cardiff”, ‘who would sell his nan for a pint’. But for all their love of the game and roguish ways, would you really want those types of activities on your CV? Maybe. 

Mike Jenkins is a retired teacher of English at several Comps. Novelist, short story writer for both adults and young people; he blogs regularly at: www.mikejenkins.net. He’s a Dedicated Bluebird. Latest books – ‘Sofa Surfin’ (Carreg Gwalch), poems in Merthyr dialect and ‘Bring the Rising Home‘ (Culture Matters) poems accompanied by images from paintings of Merthyr artist Gustavius Payne.

  

Alternative CCFC CV

I’ve stood on the North Bank, Vetch Field,
supporting the wrong team
(lucky we never scored!).

I’ve carried on striding
straight into a marauding Chelsea firm
saying ‘I’ve lived in Belfast‘ to a fleeing friend.

I’ve had a whole pint
poured down the drain
by Devon cops, just because City.

I’ve met the leader of the Soul Crew
running away from trouble,
but urging us to join in.

I’ve reached the depths of despondency
after the play-off loss to Blackpool
and vowed not to eat oranges again.

I’ve been to games in the Dungeon
on wet, freezing Tuesdays
when the police outnumbered fans.

I’ve seen droogies in bowlers
carrying umbrellas on the Bob Bank;
had an umbrella confiscated as a weapon.

I’ve witnessed Boro fans doing the Ayatollah
after we beat them in the FA Cup,
when Whitts scored with a rare right-footer.

I was there when Pompey took the Grange End
and our fans climbed the floodlights
as Man U threatened to invade.

I’ve broken my mobile and glasses
in goal celebration ecstasy.
Can I have that job in Security?

 

 

Abide the Bosses’ Law by Gemma June Howell

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Image by Ricardo Liberato*

At which point the butterfly of globalisation first flapped its wing has been the focus of historical debate for many years. Some suggest that it goes back to Roman times and the imposition of ‘foreign’ forms of economic and social development throughout Europe – hence ‘what did they ever do for us’! But I see modern globalisation being about scale and worldwide integration of all forms of capital, some of which are good (raising levels of empathy and understanding of different cultures), some of which are bad (where capitalism soaks the pores of every crevice).

In more recent times globalisation reached its potential through deregulation during the Thatcher/Reagan era that released the bats of profiteering we see today in the long tail of economic inequality. This followed the shock oil price controls by OPEC, in the early 70s; which was the beginning of non-Western hegemony with the spread of global assets by today’s new economic powers from Dubai to Dehli to Beijing. Capital flows as quickly as the oil through transcontinental pipes, so we now have Indian companies owning British-based manufacturing and deciding the fate of Welsh and English steel workers. The origin of ownership doesn’t matter per se. But global capitalism is run in the same way whatever the cultural heritage as we see with ‘communist’ China. Owners may be hedge funds or political dictators, they are all driven by profit and their managers are their enforcers.

DSC_0656GemmaJuneHowellB&WLR

Image by John Briggs

Gemma June Howell’s poignant ballad, ‘Abide the Bosses’ Law’, inspired by the Rhondda Riots (aka Tonypandy riots) over one hundred years ago, resonates to this day. Our women cradled flasks of tea/while we clasped wooden sticks. /The kids looked on with hungry eyes,/We miners had thrown down our picks!” An oligopoly of mine owners had set prices and wages to the obvious detriment of the workers. “Though starving half to death out there/our wills were strong as iron./We wouldn’t take this lying down,/each man with the heart of a lion.” (more…)

Sofa Surfin, and Pound Shop Politics by Mike Jenkins

sofa surfinWhen I was eighteen and hanging out on an estate back home doing not very much, I had a friend who always carried a rucksack round with him. We’d be round someone’s flat and he’d stay there when we all left for the night. I didn’t think much of it at first, but gradually as I got to know him better, I found out he was homeless, aka a ‘sofa surfer’. Odd nights, when his mother wasn’t drunk (there was no known father), he would stay with her, the rest of the week, wherever he could find a friend. He didn’t come from a stable background, like I did, but that wasn’t why he was homeless.

It is a common misconception that homelessness is down to the individual’s misfortune, whether self-inflicted or not. Yes, there are such factors as drug misuse, crime, family breakdown that result in the person becoming homeless. But it doesn’t mean they have to remain out on the streets, or more commonly and less obviously, in B&B accommodation or a friend’s spare room or sofa.

mike jenkinsMike Jenkins’ poem Sofa Surfin, written in the vernacular, shows how easily it can be for many people to end up with nothing. “Ee’ve kicked me out/it woz a stewpid argument/’bout a juke-box/’Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’.” And with homelessness comes bureaucracy, “Ever tried ridin the waves/of forms an offices,/find an answer in impossible paper?/Ever tried goin under,/I mean drownin alive/below all yewer memrees?” People find different ways to deal with their situation, as Ian Duhig’s poem Jungle showed in a previous feature on PP. But often it can end badly, “I stood on-a board/f moments before bein dragged down/t the subway, like an underwater tunnel/where I could ardly breathe.” Sofa surfin is the hidden away, unaccounted for, story of homelessness, where friends and distant family are called on because of the lack of affordable housing, a cruel benefits system and the exploitation of landlords. (more…)